I was always under the allusion growing up that there would be a future for me as a creator. I was told this by my parents, my teachers and even my closest friends that there is a place in this world that would have all that I could ever want if I follow my passion and work hard at it. Ambition, however, comes in many forms and blind ambition is the one I suffered of the most.
I wanted to grow as a creator and become the best guitar player I have have ever known. I know, that is certainly a high goal to achieve, but I found that my passion for music was great and my natural talent for guitar a great sign. I practiced for years to become the greatest but there was one fundamental flaw in my plan; my older sister. Perhaps it has something to do with the rivalry between siblings but I found that I was constantly below the skill of my sister and it was insufferable. She worked just as hard as me to do what she did, I suppose, but there was something in me that wanted to achieve greatness.
Perhaps it was all that support I received in the beginning, but I truly believed I could become the best. I worked hard into the evenings on making my fingertips as hard as wood and my nails plucking it strings so perfectly and without fault that the songs I played were perfection in their own right. Of course, my sister didn’t go as far as that and I found myself gaining on her. She would learn a new skill in perhaps a month and I would do it in a week. The time came for us to compare our talents. We both auditioned to be guitar players in a contest for a record deal.
To any musician this was a chance in a lifetime that should be taken immediately and as such there were a lot of musicians at the contest. Some guitars were more expensive, some players looked more professional, but I felt it in my heart that I had the chance to beat them all, but there wasn’t such resolve when it come to my sister. She seemed to have something that made her music better than mine and I soon found out what that was after I played my song.
I received a great score, people admired me from the crowd the smiles on the judges was empowering, however, my sister stole the show. When it came time for her to play she didn’t just sit there and play the guitar the way she did, she sang as well. Her voice was well trained and her guitar accompanied it perfectly. I was silent through the melody and so was the crowd. It plucked at my heart strings and left the judges speechless. Of course, she won and was given the contract on the spot. I watched as my sister signed and in the months to come leave home to go record her music.
I don’t recall touching the guitar after that day. I knew it sat there on a stand in my bedroom. I would leave for work, come home and go to sleep or watch tv. There wasn’t much else on my mind. Living this was bitter. Feeling a slight pain in your chest, your pride still crumbling off your spirit and your confidence long since gone. I felt broken after being so dedicated to this goal. Feeling that true pain when someone less passionate than you succeeds more than you. I knew in my heart I would never achieve my goal of becoming the best and my sister would continue to gain fame, but there was also a part of me that knew I was the problem.
I put in over a decade of my life on this passion. I poured love into every plucking of a note and my ambition pushed me to do this constantly. Sitting there in my room I realized that was an unhealthy way to go about achieving such a goal. She found peace in playing the guitar, if not passion. We both had the same dysfunctional family after all and the songs she sang often mentioned me. I could not feel anger or any ill feelings towards her. However, I could find there was something wrong me and the way I looked at my passion. It was not everything, but it was something that I loved.
Playing the guitar after this epiphany felt so different. It no longer sounded perfect, it no longer sounds clean and professional, but it certainly sounded better. My sister came home one day and I greeted her with a sincere smile and we talked. I explained my feelings about the contest and why I acted the way I did when I practiced. I asked for forgiveness for the coldness I displayed as we were growing up and this was received with warmth. My sister and I played the guitar together for the first time and I could not understand in all these years why we didn’t before.
As we played she sang songs of our past that she wrote for us and not for her fans. We continued to play this music till we had tears in our eyes and we couldn’t see the strings. Mistakes ensued and instead of that frustration I felt it was joy. We slowed to a stop and laughed. I never became a professional guitarist like my sister, but I didn’t stop practicing. I became an account with a family and two children. A few years after my second child was born I received a letter from my sister who was playing somewhere in Europe, I didn’t follow where.
It was a birthday card, a day or two late, but that happens. In it she wrote, “Happy Birthday to the best guitarist I know!” Perhaps that wasn’t the goal I was going for when I began playing, but I found myself fulfilled nonetheless.